Ten Questions to Ask
 The Inside Scoop on
aquarium keeping from Aqualand Pets Plus

 
Amphibians
Axolotls
Caecilian Worm
Chaco Toad
Mud Puppies

Newts General
Newts Eastern
Newts Golden

Newts Mandarin
Salamanders
Suriname Toad
Tadpoles
Terrarium I
Terrarium II
USA Toads
Water Dogs
Misc. Toads

Frogs
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Clawed
Dumpy
Dwarf
Fire-Belly
Floating
Green Tree
Leopard
Pac Man
Pipa pipa
Pyxie
Red-Eyed Tree
Tomato
Misc Frogs 
Misc Frogs II
Misc Frogs III
Misc Frogs IV

Misc Frogs V

Animals
Bunnies
Bunnies II 

Cat-N-Around Cat Club
Cat-N-Around Cat Club 2007 Annual Show
Hawkeye Cat Club 2004
Hawkeye Cat Club 2005
Chinchillas
Degus
Ferrets
Ferrets by BOB
Gerbils
Ground Squirrels
Guinea Pig
Hamsters I
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Hamsters V
Hedgehogs
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Kids & Kittens
Mice
Mice Pets II
Parasites
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Rats, Hairless
S-T Opossums
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Water Bottles

Bugs
Crabby 500
Crab 04 Results
Centipedes
Cray/Lobsters
Crayfish II
Crayfish III
Cray, Yucatan
Fiddler Crabs
Shrimp, Algae
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Reiman Butterfly
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Snail, Land
Snail, Malaysian

Snail, Mystery
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Scorpions
Tarantulas
Tarantulas II
Tarantula Night 2006
TarantulaWeen VII
TarantulaWeen 9
Walking Stick
Misc. Bugs
Misc Bugs II  

Birds
Breeding Tips

Button Quail
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Cockatiels
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Finches
Love Birds
Parakeets
Pelleted Foods
Quaker Parrots

Parrot Pictures
Parrot Pix II

Parrot Pix III
Dave's Parrots


Lizards
Alligators
Anoles
Bearded Dragon

Beardies II
Calotes
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Crested Geckos
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Gecko, House
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Horned "Toads"
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Iguana Q&A I
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Iguana Training
Iguana Update
Cool Iguana Pics
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Salmonella
Skinks
Skinks Blue-Tongue
Tegus
Uromastyx maliensis
Water Dragon
Misc Lizards
Misc Lizards 2
Misc Lizards 3
Misc Lizards 4
Misc Lizards 5

Misc Lizards 6
Misc Lizards 7
Misc Lizards 8
Misc Lizards 9
Misc Lizards 10


Snakes
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Corn Snake
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Green Snake
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Kids at Pet Expo 4

Kids at Pet Expo 5
King & Milk
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Snakes Alive
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Misc Snake Pix
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Misc Snakes III  

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Sulcata
Water

Western Painted

Live Foods
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Shrimp II
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Dandelions
Daphnia
Earthworms
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Fruit Flies
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Glass Worms

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Infusoria
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Rosy Reds

Super Worms

Wax Worms
White Clouds

 

Decorating
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Driftwood
Gravel
Plastic Plants
Rocks
Slow Growing Plants

Miscellaneous
Bob's Acclimation

How to Start
How to Add New Fish
How to Keep Healthy
Which Fish Get Along?
10 Questions to Ask
What is Ich?
Under Gravel Filters

Sponge Filters
Cloudy Water

Cool Water Tanks
Gravel Vacuums
Preventing Disease
Feeding to the Max
Frozen Foods
Green Water
Nasty Chemicals
Overfeeding
Power Filters
Rift Lake Salts
Quarantine Tank
Mini-Tank
2nd Av Bait

Pet World Visit
Dandelions

Aquatic Plants
Amazon Swords
More Swords
Sword Plants III

Anubias
Anacharis
Aponogetons
A. boivinianus
A. fenestralis
A. ulvaceous
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Banana Plant
Bolbitis
Bunch
Bunch Plants II
Cryptocorynes
Crystalwort
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Hornwort
Hygrophila
Lace
Java Fern I
Java Fern II
Java Fern III
Java Fern IV
Java Moss
Moss Balls
Onion
Vermiculite

Watersprite

Different Watersprite

                  

Most successful fishkeepers start their fishkeeping careers with a 10-gallon tank -- the world’s most popular “starter tank” -- or they start with a larger tank.

Successful fishkeepers rarely start with gumball machines or other “desktop mini-tanks” designed for people who want the “idea of the tank” more than the fish.

If you’re still teetering on that decision, remember:  Mini-tanks are much harder to “keep alive” than the good old standard 10-gallon tank – or any other size tank for that matter.  It takes a skilled aquarist to successfully maintain a mini-tank.

Most of the comments contained in these 10 questions (and answers) will apply to hobbyists who maintain 10 and 20-gallon “starter tanks.”  If you experts reading this learn anything in the process, that’s alright, too.

1.  Can I Afford this Fish?

Sure you’d love an $80 discus, but you could add dozens of neons or moons for the same price.  And they’ll live.

On the average, the economical (cheaper) fishes present fewer problems – that’s one reason they cost less.  The fishes in the lower price range are easier to keep and easier to pay for.  Always start with reasonably priced fishes.  Learn on these “trainer fishes” first.  You didn’t learn to drive in a Porsche.  Buy your expensive fishes after you know what you’re doing.  As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t know how to keep an expensive fish alive, you really can’t afford it.

2.  Do They Have Special Needs?

Keep away from overly demanding species.  If your prospective fish needs a special piece of equipment or imported water from an Arizona hot spring, forget it.

Most community fishes present few demands on your knowledge of organic chemistry or your pocketbook.

3.  How Aggressive Are They?

Cute, little African cichlids never get excessively large, but they pester other fishes to death – particularly non-African cichlids.

Almost all cichlids grow increasingly  aggressive as they increase in size.  Yes, they get prettier, but they also demand more elbow room and usually take it by killing their less aggressive tank mates.

Mix mean fish only with other mean fish.  And Remember:  The larger your tank, the fewer fish fights you’ll see.  Even mean fishes can get along in larger tanks.  Also, it never hurts to keep a tank divider handy to break up those sudden cichlid squabbles that always break out for no apparent reason.

4.  How Big Do they Get?

Fish stores sell very young and thus usually small fishes.  They all grow larger – some quite a bit larger.  

Big fishes eat little fishes.  That’s their job.  They also need more room.  Take a pretty little two-inch pacú for example.  He quickly grows to a foot in length – even in a 20H.  In a large tank, pacús grow so huge you need a landing net to move them (and a raincoat).

And those cute little red oscars grow into giant goldfish gulpers as do a lot of our aquarium fishes.  Select fishes that will grow to maturity in your tank without cramping their own lifestyle or killing their tank-mates.

5.  What Do they Eat?

If this particular fish only eats left-handed marsupials from New Zealand, perhaps you need to think twice before buying it.  The vast majority of aquarium fishes fare quite well on flake foods or pellets.

Frozen foods open up another panorama of fish possibilities for those who don’t mind the little extra trouble.

However, when starting out, offer your fishes a selection of three to five flake or freeze-dried foods.  Get into the special foods later.  It’s fun to watch them hunt and devour live shrimps, but there’s plenty of time for treat foods later.

6.  How Many Should I Buy?

Do you want a single specimen such as an arowana or pike cichlid?  Probably not.  Most fish keepers start with a “community of fishes.” 

Think in terms of trios of the livebearers and schools of the egglayers – especially the tetras.  If you buy a “rainbow of moons” for their color, you can ignore the trio suggestion.  But small groups of livebearers do best with one male and two females.  This also doubles your chances of increasing your tank population, or even more likely, increasing the live food population in your tank – at least temporarily. 

7.  What Features Do You Like?

Tank-raised fishes long ago went way beyond their wild-caught cousins in colors, shapes, and finnage.  Green swords evolved into bright red jewels.  Silver and black-barred angels transmuted into gold via the alchemy of genetic engineering at the fish farms.  Japanese goldfishes look nothing like the goldfish you put in small bowls.  The Japanese have developed many intriguing variations on the originals.

Pick the colors you like.  However, if you have blue gravel and a blue background, you’d do well to avoid blue fishes.  Pick fishes that stand out from their surroundings.

8.  How Do They Act?

Avoid nervous fish, fish lying on the bottom, fish with clamped fins, and shimmying fish.  If you see fish belly-up at the tank’s surfaces, move on to the next tank.

Look for active fishes with erect fins, plump bellies, and bright eyes.  When you put your hand above their tank, do they all rush to the top to eat?  Hungry fish are healthy fish and vice versa.

9.  Are they Healthy?

In addition to the way they act, look for other signs of disease:  white spots, cloudy eyes, ragged fins, open sores, and slimy patches.  Good fish stores clearly mark their diseased fishes.  However, you need to keep your eyes open also.  Ask your retailers what they do with their sick fishes.

10.  What’s Special about them?

Some fishes earn their keep in your tank by eating the algae that grows on the sides.  Others perform equally valuable services. 

Catfishes and snails roam the bottom as they scavenge the extra food that falls to the bottom.  Guppies “pop out” live babies every 28 days.  Others carefully clean a cozy corner and build a nest for their babies.

Some fishes just look good, while others – such as oscars and other large cichlids – can actually learn tricks.

And, of course, there are those specialists that concentrate on one species or type -- guppy fans come to mind.  Or betta people.  Ditto on killies and lots of others.

Ask your dealer for some of the inside scoop on the fishes that look good to you.  You’ll find out there are as many different types of fish hobbyists around as there are different types of fishes.  LA

© 1985, © 2003, © 2004  LA Productions

3600 Sixth Avenue

Corner of Sixth & Euclid Avenues

Des Moines, IA 50313

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